When Tragedy Strikes, Where is God?

In the aftermath of the stabbing death of Shaun Wild, many people were left asking why? Naperville Patch approached a local religious leader with the same question.

A week ago a tragic incident took place in Naperville. A man’s life was taken and .

Friends, family and even those wholly unconnected to , who was stabbed to death early in the morning of Feb. 4 were left asking: Why? Why did such a thing happen? Why did a man, , who claimed – on his Facebook page – to be Christian take the life of another person? How could such a thing happen? 

We approached Rev. Mark Winters seeking answers and found he was just as perplexed as everyone else. Winters is the pastor at the in Naperville.

When such a tragedy happens, it is easy to wonder where is God?

“There are a number of responses to this — a lot of times people say God is in the compassionate response of family and friends; that when horrible things happen, God is in the kindness of strangers, the hugs, the tears, the stories of our lost loved one, all those things that bring us some solace or sense of comfort in the despair,” Winters said. 

Just as other residents in have wrestled with what happened, so has Winters, he said. As he has contemplated the matter, he has grown to see a connection between the silence of the victims and the silence of God. 

Winters relates a story in the Bible in Genesis 34 about Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, who is raped. “Throughout the attack, and the ensuing retributive violence, Dinah never says a word. Nor, for that matter, does God. I think there is an allegory there, about God joining in solidarity with the one who has been silenced," Winters said. "So, I wonder if somehow, in silencing the voice of another person, an attacker has also silenced God.

“As a Christian, I understand my relationship with other people as directly related to my relationship with God," Winters said. "I am taught to love God, and love my neighbor as myself. Jesus makes this more clear in Matthew 25, that as we treat the least of those who are our brothers and sisters, whether with kindness or indifference, it is as if we are treating Jesus himself with that same kindness or indifference.”

The actions of taking another life are in essence a rejection of God, he said.

“In my view, it isn't about [Daniel Olaska] saving his soul from condemnation, but about reconciling himself to a God he rejected so aggressively in his taking of Shaun's life,” Winters said. “The question is not whether people or God can forgive him, but whether he can ever find God, and express a faith in God by treating people accordingly.”






Gina February 12, 2012 at 04:09 PM
speaking as Shaun's Aunt I'll share my own perspective in a few "run-on" comments!! I apologize in advance for the length. How can we explain it? We can’t We read in Isaiah 55 ... “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Will the witness of Shaun’s life make a difference in the life of another as they ponder who he was and how he lived? Will a student considering an education major decide he wants to walk in those same shoes? We can’t even begin to imagine how God will use this tragedy. Will he teach us more about both justice and mercy May he have saved Shaun from some suffering some dreaded disease later in life which would have caused him much suffering? I’ve had a number of very difficult situations in my life, from sexual abuse to a rare, serious cancer, the treatment, etc. And, I'm only 53. As a result, my son now to works in the field of radiation oncology helping cure and relieve the pain of others. My suffering was not wasted, it was used. And many times I've ministered to others going through similar trials. Are Shaun’s family & friends being prepared for something? 2 Cor. 1:4 "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."
Gina February 12, 2012 at 04:17 PM
(continuation) I could go on and on with Scriptures that assure us that God is not asleep at the wheel. Tragic things happen each day and evil is part of the world we live in. But, though I can’t explain God’s reasons I CAN be assured that He is sovereign over everything. Most likely this will never make sense. Our human minds want to the puzzle pieces to fit perfectly, but they just don't. There is only one truth we can cling to. Even in the midst of tragedy God never leaves nor forsakes us. This is NOT easy. I am still reeling. It’s been a rough week and Shaun will be dearly missed, but I am confident that his death will be used to touch others for good. And, we WILL be reunited one day in God’s kingdom where there will be no more tears, no more death, and we'll live in peace for eternity. It doesn’t erase my grief, but it gives me hope. I'll likely never know all the answers, but God doesn't promise use that in this llifetime. The trial will be another hurdle and I sense it will be difficult to endure, but again God will be with us even then. Not make it easy, but somehow fruitful. How ... I can't even begin to answer that one!!
Gina February 12, 2012 at 04:21 PM
last comment!!! I believe we will come to see evidence of Shaun's light in our lifetimes and when we join him in the Kingdom we will see the full picture. God wastes nothing … even our pain. Already a scholarship fund in his name has raised close to $10K that others who wish to follow in his footsteps as an educator will have financial help to do so. If anyone cares to contribute I have the information on how to do so and it's very easy!! I cling to another scripture ... Rom 8:28 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Notice he doesn’t say “some” things. He says ALL things. Can I explain it? … absolutely not. Can I trust God even when I can’t explain it? I must. I hope others will try to do the same. God can give us the grace to do so through the power of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that Shaun's death not be in vain. I already see evidence that it has not been. God Bless ... Gina If you are struggling … read the Book by James Dobson “When God Doesn’t Make Sense” … it may be helpful to some. I’ve read it a few times in my life
Mary Ann Lopez February 12, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Thank you Gina for sharing your thoughts and feelings with everyone. I think you are right when you say we will never make sense of this, but it is inspiring to know that good things can come out of evil and it sounds like there are good things happening already. Again, thank you for sharing and know that we here are keeping Shaun's family in our thoughts and prayers.
Gina February 12, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Thank you Mary Ann. I know you've expressed your condolences before. I don't know why I feel the need to respond to these things at times. I guess I'm one who needs to talk to process my grief. however, I can't dump quite so much on the patch. I'll have to monitor myself :-) Just grappling with the nonsensical myself. But, I give thanks for those 24 years. From the day I first held him till the day we laid him to rest, he was a joy. I feel fortunate to have had a close family that kept connected so I WAS able to share in his life in so many ways. It brings me comfort and often a smile to my face as I look back. I'll be pulling out our own family videos this week and laughing at all the fun times and goofy things little kids do. Remembering those great times is helpful in the healing process. Thank you for your coverage of this story. You've done a really nice job and I appreciate it. Have a wonderful day. I will attend mass today not to grieve, but to give thanks!! Shaun would like that. In his words, "Wow, that's Epic" :-) take care.
Gina February 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
btw ... I live in Geneva, but I'm now finding it more interesting and comforting following the Naperville patch. How nice that we have the Internet which allows us those options!! And that's enough from ME for today :-)
Planecrash February 20, 2012 at 06:24 AM
Omg, five out of six comments from the same woman. Quit tooting your own horn and go away.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something